The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Couple of Small Accessories. . .

Two new cotton pocket squares that arrived here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold just a little while ago.

A relaxed, quiet Saturday here, and I've got some reading of quite a few student papers along with final grading during the next week or so.  Classes for the spring semester came to a close yesterday.  To celebrate the end of the first year here at MSU, I ordered myself a couple of new pocket squares from the folks behind Put This On early this week, and these arrived in the mail just after midday today.  These are cotton, 16 inches square, and feature nice, big hand-rolled edges.  In addition, I purchased them on sale, which is always a nice plus.  

Suffice to say, these are not the kind of handkerchiefs you blow your nose into if that is a particular habit.  In any case, I thought it would be nice to have a couple of squares that were neither shiny silk, nor heavier wool.  The one on top should work well with fall colors -- think muted tweeds, corduroys, and flannels -- while the red and cream number is a more fanciful bit of conceit. . .  'Cause, you know, you've got to have some fun with your attire and not take things too seriously, as I always say, even when your clothes are (or should be) more pulled together and adult in nature.  Ok.  Enough prattle.  Time to read a batch of a dozen, or so undergraduate papers.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Dave Edmunds ~ Girls Talk

NICK LOWE - CRUEL TO BE KIND - HQ Best Version. New Audio.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

George Benson- Give Me The Night

Herb Alpert - Rise (HQ Audio)

DREAMSVILLE - Diana Krall

Tan Three-Piece Wednesday. . .

Here's the upper half of the recently acquired, dry-cleaned, and slightly altered tan three-piece by the venerable Hart Schaffner Marx of Clicago.

Well, the final week of classes for the spring semester, it's an incredible bright, sunny, pleasantly cool day, and an idea for a new academic/pedagogic article hit me like a bolt out of the blue as I read the first batch of ten final student papers this morning after collecting them.  What better way to celebrate than by wearing a recently acquired tan gabardine three-piece suit?  

Ok, ok. .  .  Cla-ass?  Cla-ass?  CLASS!  You'll pardon my channeling of Cheech and Chong's Sister Mary Ann Elephant, I hope.  But let's get the Barack Obama Tan Suit brouhaha in August 2014 jokes out of our systems.  I'll remind everyone that you can easily find plenty of photographs online of Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, and other leaders of the U.S. in tan suits, and they actually look pretty good.  Pretty darn good if we are honest.  Tan is a traditional warm weather color after all, albeit somewhat less formal than navy or charcoal, which was the real problem, if indeed there was one at all, with President Obama's attire at the time.

As far as a three-piece suit goes, well, these are pretty uncommon these days from what I observe, but I enjoy having a few in my wardrobe and wearing them now and again.  My late stockbroker and later corporate VP father had and wore quite a few of these in the 1970s and 80s when he worked in the financial and investment industry in Manhattan, as did many of his male colleagues.  The look clearly made quite an impression on the young me.  Whether these are currently trendy, or not isn't the point.  I enjoy wearing the odd (pun intended) three-piece from time to time, and that's the main thing.  

Besides, while I wear a blazer or sports jacket and odd pants most often, there is no denying that I have an extra spring to my step on those days when I select a suit in the morning.  Isn't that reason enough for more of us guys to don a suit. . . even when it's not required?  Yes, yes.  I know.  Arguments to the contrary -- the rise of the casual workplace, not wishing to stand out as "that guy," and not rocking the boat of your company culture by toeing the line of that all-important, and even oppressive, team atmosphere that permeates much of the work world in 2016 notwithstanding -- I humbly suggest more of us put on a suit and necktie with a pair of quality leather dress shoes from time to time besides just the occasional wedding, funeral, or job interview.  

At the very least, how about when you take out your significant other for a special evening, meet new clients or give special presentations on the job, appear for jury duty, or attend church/temple?  There's nothing wrong with feeling (and looking) like you are on top of your game after all. . .  or demonstrating your awareness of the seriousness and importance of certain situations and paying them the respect due.  It's just a thought.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


P.S.
The first nine or ten papers were thrilling and satisfying to read.  Clearly, those students have been thinking about the material over the last 15 weeks and drawing interesting conclusions about it.  Let's hope the second half of the class has done so too.
 


And the lower half of today's attire.  I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that maroon socks are as versatile as charcoal and navy blue.  But black?  Perish the thought!

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Motels - Only The Lonely (Official Audio)

Joe Jackson Breaking Us in Two HQ

ELVIS COSTELLO Alison 1977

Todd Rundgren - Can We Still Be Friends (1978)

Todd Rundgren and Utopia with Libertine

It's Madras Monday!

The upper half early today during the as usual unattended (by any students) office hours.  No matter.  A fresh cup of dark roast coffee and the final 35 pages of a novel for one of my courses was a nice way to spend the two hours before heading off to teach.  However. . .  I've had at least four students indicate they will visit me tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.  Can you tell the final paper is almost due?

More than a month before the unofficial start of the summer season -- Memorial Day Weekend here in the U.S. -- but the sun was out most of the day, and it just felt right.  The high temperature for the days was in the mid-70s Fahrenheit after all.  The necktie, by the way, is a Robert Talbott Nordstrom's thrift find, purchased three or four years ago.  Tomorrow, rain, and much cooler temperatures here in Lower Michigan, so I plan to trot out my double breasted wool flannel Glen Plaid number one final time before classes end for the semester on Friday.  

So many guys view the prospect of dressing presentably as, oddly, some kind of tortuous chore.  I suggest that if more men learn to have fun with their attire and learn to enjoy dressing nicely, that more might begin to think of wearing items a few notches above jeans, cargo shorts, and sweatpants as something to enjoy.  And, maybe, even aspire to.   I admit that the prevailing attitude that a casual workplace is, somehow, a perk and, somehow, preferable to wearing a tucked in shirt (with an actual collar, a jacket, and a tie) escapes me.  Like, totally. . .

-- Heinz-Ulrich


And the lower half today, featuring  a pair of exceedingly comfortable calfskin monkstrap loafers that were purchased from, of all places, Land's End seven or eight years ago.  The vaguely Witchy-Poo socks were purchased on sale from Dapper Classics two or three years ago, and the khaki chinos from Land's End last September.  The new direction LE seems to be taking is a bit sad, because there were always numerous items that the company did well (dress shirts, neckties, some of their dress pants, etc.).  These number fewer and fewer, though, as LE actively courts the the J. Crew-Old Navy customer base. 


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Random Mid-April Thoughts. . .

This old Laurence Fellows illustration has turned up here at Classic Style for the Average Guy before, I am certain, but I come back to it because it provides a glimpse into a largely vanished world, where many more people than today observed the rules of polite society as far as their interactions with one another were concerned. 

Finally managed to accomplish the old twice yearly wardrobe switcheroo yesterday afternoon, brushing down and zipping my tweed, corduroy, and wool flannel into breathable garment bags and hanging lighter weight spring, summer, and early fall items in my bedroom armoire.  I had also forgotten about the three Southwick suits that still need minor alterations before they can be worn.  This summer for sure.

**********

I spent yesterday morning staffing our MSU Chapter table for The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at World Languages Day on campus.  I happened to wear a lighter weight navy blazer, a dark crimson knitted silk tie, a blue OCBD shirt, olive chinos, with dark tan belt and monkstrap loafers.  I was one of four men present in a jacket, and one of two with a necktie.  Two of the four actually sported tan/taupe suits, one with tie and one (shakes head sadly) without.


**********

If you're going to wear a blazer or sports jacket, have the sleeve shortened to fit your arms and show a bit of cuff.  Simple, inexpensive, and it looks a hell of a lot better than not doing it.


**********

If you're out of high school, or college, avoid prefacing your remarks to others with the word "Dude," which sounds pathetic in the extreme coming from the mouths of adults over 30, 40, and 50.


**********

And speaking of mouths, if you're staffing an information booth or table, let up on the donuts and other crap typically made available at these kinds of events.  Nothing looks worse than someone in his fifties with powdered sugar, glaze, or sprinkles around his lips, or down his front, as he talks through a mouthful to marginally interested passersby.  I saw plenty of women of various ages suffering from this affliction too.  It ain't just the boys sadly.


**********

I never had a more startling picture of how overfed we have become as society here in the United States in recent decades than I had yesterday.  I am aware of the statistics that indicate as much, but still.  Good Lord!  The sheer number of adolescents, teenagers, college kids, parents, and/or teachers who approach being, not slightly, but grossly overweight in 2016 is astounding and troubling.  Before I get any venomous hate mail, that’s not a moral judgement of anyone, merely an observation.  That said, the vocal admonitions to stop so called 'fat shaming' and which advocate 'body acceptance' are not helping things.  We have become a physical mess as a society.  The answer?  Stop grazing all of time, eat healthier food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner (single, reasonably sized helpings are enough for most of us), turn off the boob-tube, and get active.  As my maternal grandmother used to say in no uncertain terms, “Get off you duff and get outside!”  Sigh.  No wonder it's so hard to find living room furniture that isn't huge and overstuffed.  There.  I said it.

**********


Returning to the illustration at the top of this post,
vestiges of this more polite world (albeit with different hairstyles and clothing) still existed as recently as the 1970s and 1980s.  I was there and part of it as a child and young person in the company of my parents, grandparents, and their friends, acquaintances, or business colleagues outside Philadelphia.  Cracks might have started to show during the very late 60s or early 70s, but I put the blame primarily on the 1990s tech boom.  Not only did the idea of looking presentable outside the home, at least during business hours Monday through Friday, fall by the wayside, but, apparently, so too did the notion of at least acting like we had more than an ounce of grooming and sophistication.  And polite behavior is part of that like it, or not.  

**********

Many of the sociopolitical developments of the last 50-100 years were long overdue in the United States.  I have said so before and neither argue for reversals, nor suggest that we don't still have ground to cover.  But polite manners in day to day life, not just around the dining table, seem to have been swept aside by our mad, myopic, dash toward greater egalitarianism since 1945.  In our collective rush to shake off the shackles of “The Man,” we have lost something that we need in 2016 more than ever. . .  In no particular order, that includes concepts like improved levels of gentility, self-respect, self-restraint, moderation in thought and deed as well as greater consideration for others.  Add to that the idea that we might strive constantly to be better, to become more than we are at present.  How can anyone argue with that? 

-- Heinz-Ulrich






Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Waning Days of Tweed and Flannel. . .

The top half today, April 14th.  Finally, almost too warm for this kind of stuff.

Especially pleased with the way today's combo of items turned out.  But it's just about time to put these sorts of things away until next October or so.  Sad, because a heavy tweed two-piece suit by Chipp arrived today that I'm dying to wear.  Muted dark green with a faint windowpane pattern woven into it.  A 3/2 roll coat and plain front, fully lined pants with nice big cuffs.  I've been after a suit like this for a long time, and it already fits well, so any necessary alterations will be minimal.  However, it's definitely too warm for wear in the foreseeable future.  It's gotta be downright nippy to pull this one off comfortably.  Well, I can dream about it in the meantime.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


And the lower half.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It Was Three-Piece Tuesday. . .

The top half yesterday, which included a delightfully soft wool flannel Polo Ralph Lauren suit, shirt by L.L. Bean, and a Brooks Brothers Makers necktie, which I call my UW-Madison tie.

There is a story, of sorts, to this Polo Ralph Lauren suit.   I stumbled onto it a couple of years in a thrift/charity shop back in Central Illinois, it looked like it had never been worn, and cost just US$5.99.  I passed it up at first (What was I thinking?), went back to see if it was still there the next afternoon, and purchased it.  Best of all, it needed no alterations whatsoever.  Easily one of my best fitting, most comfortable suits and drapes wonderfully on my 5' 11" frame.  As comic actor Mike Myers used to say on Saturday Night Live, when in the guise of his character Linda Richman on Coffee Talk,  "It's like buttah!"

-- Heinz-Ulrich


 And the bottom half.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Gay Talese on the Craft of Tailoring and Dressinng Well. . .


How odd it is to come back to writer Gay Talese after all of these years.  I used to hear my parents and grandparents discuss his work around the dinner table routinely as a child in the 1970s!  Here is an interesting piece from Vanity Fair by Mr. Talese.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, April 11, 2016

It's DB Monday!

The upper half today, featuring a J. Press pheasant necktie (a New Year's gift to myself this January), a thrifted pocket square, an old Land's End cotton dress shirt, and a heavy wool navy blue DB suit with a lovely nailhead finish.

So, one of my male students asked at the end of class today, "How come you always dress up?" as he packed his notebook and laptop into his backpack while still sitting in the front row of seats.  I replied, "To celebrate being alive," something apparently once said by the great Gay Talese in response to a similar question about his approach to daily attire.   I've been waiting a long time to pull that line out of my hat and use it.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the lower half, featuring maroon Merino wool socks from Dapper Classics and oxblood captoe oxfords by Allen Edmonds.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Power Outage Thursday Attire. . .

The upper half, featuring a few favorite items that include a thrifted Harris Tweed jacket, a Tattersall OCBD from Land's End (purchased before stiff, plastic collar linings became the norm), a thrifted navy wool tie, and a thrifted silk pocket square.

Well, it might be Spring according to the calendar, but no one seems to have told Mother Nature.  At least not here in Lower Michigan, where it has been cold, gray, and wintry since just after Easter Sunday.  We even continue to have spells of snow, and while nothing has really accumulated enough to get the skis and toboggan out one last time, it has hardly been warm enough to contemplate brushing down, zipping into breathable storage bags, and storing the winter wardrobe while swapping in the warm weather linen, cotton, and wool gabardine.  

Too bad, since I have a wonderful new tan three-piece suit by Hart-Shaffner-Marx (Ok, let the Obama tan suit jokes commence!) and a lovely Ralph Lauren Blue Label linen suit, for which I splurged, that I'm eager to wear, but we are rapidly running out of time.  Our current semester finishes here at the end of April, and there are painfully few reasons to dress nicely in professional clothing during the warmer summer months.  Sigh.  Another time I guess.  Maybe at the end of August when the fall semester begins once more?

So, although I have been contemplating making the twice yearly wardrobe switch for two weeks now, I have continued to rely on tweed, corduroy, and occasionally heavier wool flannel suits.  I am especially pleased with the overall look of today's combination of items.  Some days, my look, admittedly, doesn't quite nail it since I don't always think too much about what I throw together early in the mornings.  And of course, you later catch sight of yourself in the men's room mirror and think, "Oh, my!  That's a little busy."  This morning, however, the stars seemed to have been a bit more in line.  See what you think.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


P.S.
The title of today's post has to do with a power outage that has knocked out much of the MSU campus.  As you might expect, that has thrown a rather large wrench in the works since so many of us rely now on WiFi and use of laptop computers in our teaching to conduct classes and lectures.  And no one seems to know exactly how long it will take to fix the problem either.  Needless to say, it took some doing to escape the faculty/staff parking lot where my car was located.

 


And here is the lower half, featuring those comfy, 12-year old golden tan dress cords from Land's End, a pair of Argyle socks I've had for years, and Allen Edmonds longwing brogues, one of my most comfortable pars of shoes.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Take the Time. . .

One of my favorite old Laurence Fellows illustrations.  Sadly, we almost never see a man dressed this well on flights now.

"I like to look nice, but I have so little time."  Balderdash!  If only I had a dime for every time I heard that excuse from friends, acquaintances, and strangers of the male persuasion.  

Here's a little secret that's really not a secret at all.  It doesn't take much time to look more pulled together than most guys these days do.  And if you like to look nice, then it pays to take five or ten more minutes to shave, brush/comb your hair after showering, tuck in your shirt, and put on a belt  with your jeans for God's sake.  

And hey, if you don't like pressing your own shirts, drop off a load at the dry-cleaners each Friday afternoon and pick up those waiting for you.   Add a sports jacket to the mix when you're headed out, or during normal Monday through Friday business hours, and you will already look more pulled together than just about anyone else who might cross your path.  In any case, do yourself and the people with whom you share your life a favor and step up your daily attire game a bit.

You see?  It's not that hard to look "nice" even during the evenings and on the weekend.  And you'll notice that there has been no mention whatsoever of suits and neckties.  Perish the thoughtUm, that's a joke, son.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


The cut of these suits in this illustration is absolute perfection to my eye.  Would that it were easier to find stuff like this in 2016.


When was the last time you witnessed a wedding party that looked this good?  We wore morning dress for my maternal uncle's afternoon wedding in May 1982 and succeeded only in looking like a troop of rental penguins, at best, when I occasionally come across a faded photograph from that time.


A little over the top, perhaps, or everyday in 2016, but I like it nonetheless.  Herringbone tweed maybe?